Page images

a slight covering of herbage, and in many places ending in sheer precipices, they are the residence of little else than wild fowl. Between the smaller islets the sea runs with great force, and many a goodly ship, in times past, 5 has laid her bones upon the pitiless rocks which every ebb tide exposes to view.

Upon Longstone, one of these islands, there stands a light-house, which, at the time of the incident about to be related, was kept by William Darling, a worthy and intel10 ligent man, of quiet manners, with resources of mind and character sufficient to turn to profitable use the many lonely hours which his position necessarily entailed upon him.

He had a numerous family of children; among them a 15 daughter, Grace, who had reached the age of twenty-two years when the incident occurred which has made her name so famous. She had passed most of her life upon the little island of Longstone, and is described as having been of a retiring and somewhat reserved disposition. In per20 sonal appearance, she was about the middle size, of a fair complexion and pleasing countenance; with nothing masculine in her aspect, but gentle and feminine, and, as might be supposed, with a winning expression of benevolence in her face. Her smile was particularly sweet. She 25 had a good understanding, and had been respectably


On Wednesday evening, September 5, 1838, the Forfarshire steamer, of about three hundred tons burden, under the command of Captain John Humble, sailed from Hull 30 on a voyage to Dundee, in Scotland. She had a valuable cargo of bale goods and sheet-iron; and her company, including twenty-two cabin and nineteen steerage passengers, comprised sixty-three persons.

On the evening of the next day, when in the neighbor35 hood of the Farne Islands, she encountered a severe storm of wind, attended with heavy rain and a dense fog. She


leaked to such a degree that the fires could not be kept burning, and her engines soon ceased to work. She became wholly unmanageable, and drifting violently, at the mercy of the winds and waves, struck on one of the 5 reefs of Longstone Island, about four o'clock on Friday morning.

As too often happens in such fearful emergencies, the master lost his self-possession, order and discipline ceased, and nothing but self-preservation was thought of. A por 10 tion of the crew, including the first mate, lowered one of the boats and left the ship. With them was a single cabin passenger, who threw himself into the boat by means of a rope. These men were picked up after some hours, and carried into the port of Shields.

The scene on board was of a most fearful description — men paralyzed by despair-women wringing their hands. and shrieking with anguish — and among them the helpless and bewildered master, whose wife, clinging to him, frantically besought the protection he could no longer give. 20 The vessel struck aft the paddle-boxes; and not above three minutes after the passengers (most of whom had been below, and many of them in their berths) had rushed upon the deck, a second shock broke her into two pieces.

The after-part, with most of the passengers and the cap25 tain and his wife, was swept away through a tremendous current, and all upon it were lost. The fore-part, on which were five of the crew and four passengers, stuck fast to the rock. These few survivors remained in their dreadful situation till daybreak, with a fearful sea running 30 around them, and expecting every moment to be swept into the deep. With what anxious eyes did they wait for the morning light! And yet what could mortal help avail them even then? Craggy and dangerous rocky islets lay between them and the nearest land, and around these 35 rocks a sea was raging in which no boat was likely to live. But, through the providence of God, a deliverance was in

store for them

of an heroic girl.

As soon as day broke on the morning of the 7th, they were descried from the Longstone light, by the Darlings, 5 at nearly a mile's distance. None of the family were at home, except Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Grace. Although the wind had somewhat abated, the sea never calm among these jagged rocks was still fiercely raging; and to have braved its perils would have done the highest 10 honor to the strong muscles and well-tried nerves of the stoutest of the male sex. But what shall be said of the errand of mercy having been undertaken and accomplished mainly through a female heart and arm!

Mr. Darling, it is said, was reluctant to expose himself 15 to what seemed certain destruction; but the earnest entreaties of his daughter determined him to make the attempt. At her solicitation the boat was launched, with the mother's assistance; and father and daughter entered it, each taking an oar. It is worthy of being noticed that 20 Grace never had occasion to assist in the boat previous to the wreck of the Forfarshire, others of the family being always at hand. It was only by the exertion of great muscular strength, as well as by the utmost coolness and resolution, that the father and daughter rowed the boat up 25 to the rock. And when there, a greater danger arose from the difficulty of so managing it as to prevent its being dashed to pieces upon the sharp ridge which had proved fatal to the steamer. With much difficulty and danger, the father scrambled upon the rock, and the boat was left 30 for awhile to the unaided strength and skill of the daughHowever, the nine sufferers were safely rescued.


The delight, with which the boat was first seen, was converted into amazement when they perceived that it was guided and impelled by an old man and young woman. 35 Owing to the violence of the storm, the rescued persons were obliged to remain at the light-house of the Darlings

a deliverance wrought by the strong heart

[ocr errors]

from Friday morning till Sunday, during which time Grace was most assiduous in her kind attentions to the sufferers, giving up her bed to one of them, a poor woman, who had seen her two children perish in her arms, while on the 5 wreck.

This heroic deed of Grace Darling shot a thrill of sympathy and admiration through all Great Britain, and indeed through all Christendom. The Humane Society sent her a flattering vote of thanks and a piece of plate, 10 and a considerable sum of money was raised for her from the voluntary contributions of an admiring public. The lonely light-house became the centre of attraction to thousands of curious and sympathizing travellers; and Grace was pursued, questioned, and stared at to an extent that 15 became a serious annoyance to her gentle and retiring


But in all this hot blaze of admiration, and in her improved fortunes, she preserved unimpaired the simplicity and modesty of her nature. Her head was not in the 20 least turned by the world-wide fame she had earned, or by the flattering caresses of the wealthy, the fashionable, and the distinguished, which were lavished upon her. The meekness with which she bore her honors equalled the courage which had won them. She resumed her former 25 way of life, and her accustomed duties, as quietly as if nothing had happened. Several advantageous offers of marriage were made to her, but she declined them all; usually alleging her determination not to leave her parents while they lived.


But she was not long destined to enjoy the applause she had earned, or the more substantial tokens of regard which had been bestowed upon her. She began to show symptoms of consumption towards the latter part of 1841; and, although all the means of restoration which the most affec35 tionate care and the best medical advice could suggest were resorted to, she gradually declined, and breathed her

last, in calm submission to the will of God, October 20, 1842. Her funeral was very numerously attended, and a monument has been erected to her memory in Bamborough church-yard, where she was buried.


Such was Grace Darling-one of the heroines of hs manity—whose name is destined to live as long as the sympathies and affections of humanity endure. Such calm heroism as hersso generously exerted for the good of others is one of the noblest attributes of the soul of 10 man. It had no alloy of blind animal passion, like the bravery of the soldier on the field of battle, but it was spiritual, celestial, and we may reverently add, godlike. Never does man appear more distinctly in the image of

is Maker than when, like the noble-hearted Grace Dar15 ling, he deliberately exposes his own life to save the lives of others.

[ocr errors]



[JANE TAYLOR was born in London, September 23, 1783, and died April 12, 1824. Her father was a writer of books, and one of her brothers is the celebrated author of "The Natural History of Enthusiasm," "Saturday Evening," &c. She wrote "Display," a talc, "Essays in Rhyme on Morals and Manners," "Original Poems for Infant Minds," (a favorite book with chil dren, and deservedly so,) and " Rhymes for the Nursery." She also contributed many articles to the "Youth's Magazine," under the signature of Q. Q., conveying sound moral and religious instruction in an attractive style. These were collected and published after her death, and they have been republished in this country. Her writings are all excellent in their tone and spirit, and possess much literary merit.

"The Discontented Pendulum "- which first appeared in the "Youth's Magazine"-is an admirable specimen of the allegory; a form of composition in which the real interest, or primary object, is communicated by a discourse which has also a secondary or subordinate meaning. Here we have a supposed conversation between the several portions of a kitchen clock; but this would have no interest or value but for the moral truth intended to be conveyed; and this latter forms the primary subject. The first conception of this particular instrument, or medium, is very ingenious and happy, because it permits the analogy to be carried along to the end in the most natural manner possible. Once starting with the clock, all the rest seems to suggest itself. The moral lesson taught is of much practical value; and the duties of life would be lightened if we could all come to the same cheerful state of mind with the pendulum.]

« PreviousContinue »